Serbia Hands Over Final War Crimes Suspect to UN Tribunal

Former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic was charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1994.

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Serbia has sent the former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic to the United Nations' war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic said Friday.

"With this, the most difficult chapters of our cooperation with The Hague tribunal have been concluded," Malovic told a press conference, hours after she signed the extradition papers.

Serbian police officers escort Goran Hadzic (center) after he visited his terminally ill mother in Novi Sad July 22, 2011.Credit: Reuters

Hadzic, 52, was a rebel Serb leader in Croatia during the conflict there from 1991 to 1995.

A Serbian government plane took Hadzic to Rotterdam, where he is due to be handed over to Dutch authorities and transferred to The Hague.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged him with war crimes in July 2004, but he disappeared on the same day and was not seen again until his arrest on Wednesday.

Hadzic waived his right to appeal the extradition decision. Before his transfer, police took him 80 kilometers west to Novi Sad, to visit his mother, who is in her late 80s and reportedly on her deathbed.

There, under heavy security, he also visited the grave of his father, who passed away during his son's run from justice.

He has reportedly not seen or contacted anybody from his family since he fled from justice seven years ago.

One of the counts of the indictment accuses him of involvement in the massacre of nearly 300 Croat prisoners at Vukovar in 1991, the worst single atrocity of the war.

Hadzic is accused of murder, persecution, forcible deportation and other crimes which took place during the campaign of terror aimed at driving non-Serbs from the area controlled by his subordinates.

Several Serbian army officers and high-ranking officials have already been tried at the ICTY and sentenced in connection with the same crimes.

Hadzic was the last fugitive the ICTY was seeking from Belgrade.

In May, Serbia arrested and then swiftly delivered to the ICTY the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, wanted for trial on genocide charges.

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